EXPLORING TEACHERS’ WHYS: Understanding Motivation Among Teachers in the Philippines

During the SEAMEO INNOTECH Governing Board meeting held in Manila, Philippines in October 2017, Department of Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones emphasized the importance of having a motivated teaching workforce that would help continuously improve learners’ achievement outcomes. Thus, SEAMEO INNOTECH embarked in early 2018 on a project that aimed to surface basic education teachers’ motivations for joining and remaining in the teaching profession. This is also consistent with SEAMEO’s seven priority agenda, one of which is revitalizing teacher education, specifically by making teaching a profession of first choice. This initiative likewise fits neatly into the Center’s continuing programmatic commitments to ensure quality learning and quality teaching, including a 21st century curriculum and professionally trained and well-supported teachers.


It has been a very interesting two years for our research team, as we constantly engaged with our colleagues who formed part of our Project Advisory Committee (PAC), and, most especially, with our teachers who very generously shared their time, their thoughts, and their stories. We also learned much from various reviews of literature produced by educational researchers. This report is an attempt to distill the numerous lessons that we gathered from our teachers, education scholars, and education practitioners throughout the research project.


An important point worth emphasizing in the study of teacher motivation is that teachers do not fit into one singular mold: They are diverse in terms of their characteristics, experiences, and contexts. This should be recognized in the design and implementation of policies and other interventions that seek to improve teachers’ well-being and welfare.


Another highlight of this report is the development of a framework that we hope adequately captures teachers’ reasons for joining, remaining and, in some cases, leaving the teaching profession. In developing this framework, the team looked at insights from various researches, both international and in the Philippine setting, and reflected on the themes that emerged from interviews with teachers in the Philippines. Initial iterations of the framework were refined and validated through an online survey that covered more than a thousand basic education teachers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.


While understanding that there remain nuances in the contexts and motivations of teachers, we were deliberate in coming up with a simple framework that would help us understand why teachers decide to join, stay on, and possibly leave the profession. Throughout the report, we emphasize that teachers’ motivations are as diverse and nuanced as their backgrounds and contexts, and how these motivations are fluid—they could emerge and resurface depending on different situations and at different points in the teachers’ careers. The report likewise highlights how motivations are not singular—teachers’ decisions to join and possibly leave their jobs can be driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. With the research surfacing these different motivations, it is our hope that our education partners can be guided in our common journey of creating an environment that truly supports and nurtures our teachers, our nation’s treasures.


This research project was fraught with both challenges and breakthroughs, with our research team at times braving landslides and rough seas, navigating checkpoints and curfews, in an attempt to reach our teachers and listen to their voices so that this project would finally come to fruition. But we also recognize that the challenges the team faced pale in comparison to the everyday struggles that our teachers face throughout their careers.


We thus encourage our readers—fellow teachers, future teachers, and education policy champions and critics alike—to journey with us through these pages as we explore what motivates our teachers to join and remain in the teaching profession. It is our hope that our colleagues working toward education policy reform will find this report helpful in crafting policies and programs that could lead to a qualified, engaged, and motivated teaching force paving the way for a better future for every learner in the Philippines.

Related Resources
  • Quarterly Newsletter – April-June 2018
  • INNOTECH eNewsletter – February 2015
  • Roles of Universities: Issues and Concerns – Part II
  • INNOTECH eNewsletter – April 2018
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EXPLORING TEACHERS’ WHYS: Understanding Motivation Among Teachers in the Philippines

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